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Changes to Economic Immigration Programs Will Help Further Reduce Backlogs and Improve Wait Times


 Canada is adjusting its intake of applications from economic immigrants to further reduce the backlog and improve wait times while meeting the country's labour market needs, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.
"The backlog of federal skilled worker applications is now half of what it was when we announced the Action Plan for Faster Immigration in 2008," said Minister Kenney. "These measures will help us to continue that progress."
Canada receives many more immigration applications than can be accepted every year. As part of ongoing efforts to better align application intake with priorities for immigration, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is limiting the number of new applications it will consider in certain categories of the federal economic immigration stream.
Effective July 1, 2011, the changes will affect new applicants to the federal Skilled Worker, federal Immigrant Investor and federal Entrepreneur programs. The changes will not affect the number of permanent resident admissions in 2011 in these three categories.
"Canada continues to welcome historically high numbers of new immigrants each year, but the Government continues to receive applications that far exceed this number," said Minister Kenney. "If we don't keep putting reasonable limits on new applications, backlogs and wait times will grow."
In November 2008, the government first took steps to identify for processing those federal skilled worker applications that responded to Canada's labour needs, such as applicants with arranged employment offers from Canadian employers or with experience in an occupation in high demand. In June 2010, the government released an updated list of 29 priority occupations and introduced a global cap of 20,000 for federal skilled workers, as well as a sub-cap of 1,000 under each occupation. Over the past year, CIC has received approximately 13,800 federal skilled worker applications under the priority occupations list (figure accurate as of June 24, 2011).
Now, for applicants who do not have an offer of employment in Canada, the government will further limit the number of new federal skilled worker applications that are considered for processing to 10,000 a year, beginning July 1. This limit will help better align the number of applications with labour market demand. Within the 10,000 limit, a maximum of 500 new applications in each of the current 29 priority occupations will be considered.
In addition, the Minister is introducing a cap of 700 on new federal investor applications. Although last year, CIC made changes that raised the minimum net worth and investment requirements, it continues to receive applications in excess of what is required. An annual cap on new applications will allow for progress on backlog reduction while ensuring that the Department has a sufficient volume of new files to meet its commitments.
The Minister is also introducing a temporary moratorium on new federal entrepreneur applications. Wait times for this program currently stretch to eight years in some visa offices. By ceasing to accept new applications as of July 1, the government will prevent further processing delays. The federal Entrepreneur Program will undergo a review in the coming months to ensure that Canada is better able to attract and retain innovative entrepreneurs.
The authority for these changes, which are being introduced through ministerial instructions, comes from amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act approved by Parliament in 2008 as part of the Action Plan for Faster Immigration. The instructions are meant to be a flexible tool that allows the government to align the intake of immigration applications with priorities for immigration.
Since these changes were implemented in November 2008, the backlog of pre-2008 federal skilled worker applicants has decreased by 50 percent. As well, priority applications are being processed in a period of months rather than years, as was the case prior to the 2008 changes.
The CIC website will be updated on July 1, 2011, with details on application requirements and procedures for affected programs.
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